My road to the crown has been interesting to say the least, but having an amazing team behind me every step of the way made it so much easier. Two weeks before leaving for West Virginia, I had no idea if I would have an evening gown to wear as it was yet to be completed and mailed out to me. The day that I actually left I was not even finished beading said gown. I also had no idea what my fun fashion outfit looked like. All I knew was that my director was busy beading it as well. I packed up my gown, the beads and the glue, sent up a prayer and got on my plane to Charleston. I should have been all stressed out but instead I was excited. My director, Samantha Riddle, has been prepping me every step of the way since I won the Miss Teen California International title. The amazing Kari Volen had been grilling me on my platform and I felt as prepared as I could ever be. There was really nothing more I could do at that point except finish beading my gown at the hotel and show up for competition. I was ready for whatever outcome the week had in store for me.
Most of all, I was excited to meet all the other candidates. While waiting at our layover in Atlanta, I was browsing through social media when I noticed a post from Miss Teen Hawaii International Kamalani Newman that suggested she might be waiting for the same flight as I was. I messaged her and was so thrilled when I met up with her. Meeting Kamalani was like meeting an old friend. She reminded me so much of what I miss about Hawaii. At the hotel lobby, it was a nice surprise to meet Miss Teen Washington Tracy Anderson and Miss Teen East Coast Katie Fox. I usually travel as comfortably as I can sans makeup and so it was with a lot of trepidation that I posed with these lovely young ladies.
The International Pageants staff were all very helpful and friendly. I was impressed with how organized and efficient the pageant activities were. The scavenger hunt in town was riotous. The trip to the library and the boys and girls club was enriching. I love water activities so I thought paddle boarding was a blast. The culmination of the day was the fashion show and dinner. That whole day was a bonding experience for us candidates and I loved getting to know the other girls.
The week went by so fast. Before we knew it the preliminaries night was upon us. By then we had become tight friends. No pageant is without its challenges. Of course my fun fashion skirt's snap had to come off right before I went on stage. A classic scene, which I loved, was Miss Teen Texas Emily Lites curling Tracy's hair while Tracy sewed Katie into her opening number dress. Real queens help each other.
If I was relaxed and unfazed all week, it was not the same story on finals night. My nerves were on edge from the get go. When the top ten were being announced and they got to number nine without me I had almost given up hope. I nearly fainted with relief when my name was called to fill the last spot of the top ten. After that, I was praying every step of the way. I prayed to not trip on my words, not to trip on my dress, and basically not to trip at all, period. After the runner-ups were called and as we waited for the winner to be announced, I gripped the hands of Miss Teen Illinois Sarah Erickson on my right and Miss Teen South Africa Daniela Ribeiro on my left so tightly I'm surprised neither one complained. I could hardly breathe. When my name was called I started sobbing. Bawling is probably more accurate. I admit I don't cry pretty.
Now the real work begins. On October 19,2017 Jumpstart will have the Read for the Record day. I am hoping to raise enough funds to obtain 200 books to share with preschool programs in different parts of the US before then. I have also started the fundraising pages for both Yellow Boat of Hope and Buildon. Visit LiterallyLiteracy.com for more information. Together we can eradicate illiteracy.
One book, one child can change the world.